Rite of Passage Four –First Love–
From the book ‘Flash of Silver…the leap that changed my world’
Question #11 ‘Peer Group’
(1945 – age 11)
How soon do you recall being concerned about your own peer group’s opinion of you, as an individual?
During my public school years I had been advanced to the senior school because of my height and found myself unable to find a peer group. Everyone else was at least a year older. It wasn’t until I arrived at Michael Hall, the Rudolf Steiner School, that I had the opportunity to relate to my own age group and discover my peers.
This coeducational school had no grade system or exams and even played games without scoring. It was a huge relief after the trauma of my immediate past. I recall being something of an oddity since the other students had, for the most part, been there for 4-5 years, always with Ms. Dawson as the class teacher.
I was, nonetheless, welcomed for who I was, not for what I had left behind. At no time did I ever feel that I had to try to gain approval. The no grades method spilled over into our relationships and meant that nobody was the most popular or best liked; we just didn’t have to compete with each other.
I look back on this treasured time with one profound regret. I wished that I had been able to remain at that school until I graduated…alas this was not to be. My whole life has been a ‘moving feast’, just long enough to find a friend and then to say goodbye, not unlike the life of a military ‘brat’?
I wonder if these short term associations with my peers was to lead me to always be somewhat ‘set apart’ and with very few deep friendships?
So…what about now?
At some point in one’s life the peer group moves from personal to professional.
It’s no longer so much about friendship as respect and not really a matter of hanging out with one another on a day-by-day basis.
In the heat of the battle I was fiercely competitive with those who did what I was trying to do. For the most part I wanted to be better rather than trying to ‘put them down’.
My behavior as the Galloping Gourmet had drawn me into a separate class of ‘gourmet’ than had hitherto been the case. Few, if any, ‘foodie’ has ever jumped over chairs and told shaggy dog stories before cooking a dish from some remote corner of the world.
I know that many of my well-known peers at that time were, to say the least…unimpressed. I didn’t blame them; if I had been in their kitchen clogs I would have felt the same.
Over time, however, I do feel that I have made several deep and lasting friendships with individuals whose professional and personal lives I respect and admire.
That early experience at the non-competitive school has never left me. It was, (and is) such a splendid idea and would solve so many of today’s aggressive contests.
Imagine a world in which we might be at peace with all men. One in which we might consider others as more worthy of attention than ourselves. Utopian? sure, but isn’t that better than simply drowning in the present day alternative?